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Artists Commissions

Arts Project

Artists Commissions

Ancient Connections has commissioned four new artists’ commissions, exploring some interlinked themes that are at the heart of the project including: pilgrimage, connecting with the Celtic diaspora of Ireland and Wales and our relationships to sacred places such as holy wells, chapels and ancient sites.

The artists will produce new artworks over the next two years, inspired by their own research as well as the findings uncovered by the Ancient Connections teams of story gatherers, community researchers and archaeologists. Each artist is expected to create work that can be shared online, in order to engage with both local audiences and with people much further afield such as Australia and North America, where there are significant communities of people with Irish and Welsh ancestry. The artists will also present their work in a final public showing in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire in 2022.

The four artists are Seán Vicary and Linda Norris, who are both visual artists based in West Wales, and artist/archaeologist John Sunderland and writer Sylvia Cullen, based in Ireland’s south-east.

Linda Norris

‘Williams Leatham Plate’ from Cân yr Oer Wynt series, ceramic decal on vintage china

Linda Norris proposes to use ‘sherds’ or found pottery fragments as the starting point for her project, encouraging people to send sherds to her and locate them on an online map. She says:

“Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past. I propose to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in Pembrokeshire and Wexford, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will be researching people who emigrated from these regions to the Diaspora in the 19th century and trying to trace their descendants.”

Seán Vicary

'Field Notes RAF St Davids'

Multi-media artist Seán Vicary recently discovered that his great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin, and he seeks to:

“Understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past, I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities”.

He will be discovering ‘hidden narratives’ in the landscape and creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves back and forth between Pembrokeshire and Wexford.

“Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places in an exciting, contemporary way; building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection”.

John Sunderland

'The Shooting Hut' (Site 1, Visit 9) from the project 'Touching Darkness' (2019)

Trained archaeologist and visual artist John Sunderland will be undertaking a pilgrimage from Whitesands to Ferns and excavating found objects along the route for the creation of a reliquary alongside pinhole photographic work. Rather than approaching this like an analytical contemporary archaeologist, he hopes to examine his discoveries with a mediaeval mindset, paying attention to “the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents”.

Sylvia Cullen

Cover of Sylvia Cullen’s play The Thaw, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland, produced by the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, published by New Island Books, inspired by the people of North Wexford, South Wicklow and East Carlow.

Writer Sylvia Cullen proposes to create a bespoke new series of short stories for podcasts or livestreaming, drawing on “dramatic tales of piracy and bootlegging along the Welsh and Irish coastlines” and haunting tales of sacred places or a longing for home. She will also run creative writing workshops in both communities.

Watching these projects evolve separately and then ultimately weave together in a final presentation will be a journey of discovery for both the project team and our audiences.

Date: August 2020 – December 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

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Arts

Seán Vicary

Art Commission

Seán Vicary

“I’m going to embark on a journey through an entangled landscape of ancestral heritage and place in search of my great-grandmother’s roots near Ferns.

Using the language and processes of archaeology as a metaphor, I’ll scrape back the layers of landscape to discover hidden narratives, creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves from N. Pembrokeshire to N. Wexford and ‘home’ again. Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places, building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection.”

'Field Notes RAF St Davids'

“I recently discovered that my great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin. She was one of 10 children, I know nothing else about her or her family. In this current time of flux and heightened identity politics it feels apposite to consider where we’ve come from in order to contemplate where we might want to go. I carry my Irish roots in my name, yet I’ve never really acknowledged that part of myself. I’d like to understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities.

I’ll be looking at different personal responses to place and landscape, where they overlap, and how artistic representation might open them for another’s understanding. I’m particularly excited about the use of geophysics for revealing hidden structures/ traces in the landscape and I’ll be exploring how the data produced by the geophysics techniques (magnetic gradiometry, electromagnetic conductivity and ground penetrating radar) can be manipulated to inform an artistic outcome.

There’s something alluring about the archaeological process and I find many similarities with my own arts practice. Archaeology’s test pits and stratigraphic sequences map phases of place over time, cutting across our inner and outer landscapes and forcing us to imagine our future as part of this record. Thinking on timescales that reach beyond our own lifespan informs how we make decisions. How might this also affect our understanding of contemporary anxieties?”

Date: September 2020 – December 2020

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Arts

Linda Norris – what3sherds, a Citizen Archaeology Project

Art Commission

Linda Norris

Sherd: Synonyms or Related Terms: shard, potsherd

Category: Artefact

Definition: Any pottery fragment – piece of broken pot or other earthenware item – that has archaeological significance. They are an invaluable part of the archaeological record because they are well-preserved. The analysis of ceramic changes recorded in potsherds has become one of the primary techniques used by archaeologists in assigning components and phases to times and cultures.
(Kipfer www.archaeologywordsmith.com 2020)

“I am an artist working across artforms, moving from painting to glass blowing, casting to ceramic in my investigations of the genius loci of the landscape. For the Ancient Connections Commission, I am interested in exploring how I can use archaeology to reveal and examine human connections with other places, primarily Ireland and the Celtic Diaspora. I am constantly seeking out things that connect me with the landscape and the people who lived here before me and I am increasingly drawn to small overlooked ‘finds’ that tell untold stories and connect me to the landscape and the people of the area.” – Linda Norris

Links with the Past

“I have recently been focusing on ceramic sherds that I have found in my garden and on beaches and riverbeds on my daily walks. Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past.

For the Ancient Connections Commission I plan to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford in Ireland, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will invite people to send me a sherd they have found in their garden, or on walks in their local area. I will record the finds, research and archive them, and, add them to an online map set up for the project. I will be consulting archaeologists on the submitted finds in case anything submitted is of archaeological interest.”

Diasporas and Descendents

“As part of this project, I also hope to research people who emigrated from Pembrokeshire and Wexford to the Diaspora in the 19th century and reaching out to their descendants. I will seek out ceramic fragments from the places where those families now live and asking them to send photographs, which could possibly inspire new art works.

The form of the final physical artworks will be developed in relation to the material uncovered in the research process, but – in addition to the virtual map – I envisage remaking some of the sherds in glass which will be incorporated into new artwork to be exhibited at the end of the Ancient Connections Project.” – Linda Norris

Date: September 2020 – December 2022

Learn More at: www.linda-norris.com